(Salt Lake City Utah- Federal land managers want criminal charges filed in 35 cases related to the armed standoff between officers and militia members supporting Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and also want ricers in Recapture Canyon earlier this year, prosecuted. They say delay by prosecutors may be putting other federal officials at risk. The environmentally leaning group called, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) contends the feds’ failure to promptly charge those who pointed high-powered weapons at officers will encourage more defiance of federal authority over public lands, and may even endanger BLM employees in Utah and other Western states, where anti-federal sentiment has run high. Similar concerns have been raised about the absence of citations issued in connection with an illegal ATV ride in Utah’s Recapture Canyon on May 10 led by San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman to protest federal “overreach.”
Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said in a prepared statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday that his office does not “sit on criminal referrals from BLM.” Adding to PEER’s frustration is the feds’ refusal to release the names of those recommended for prosecution and the specific charges requested. PEER intends to follow the outcome of the Recapture Canyon ride, but the database is current only through April 30th. It is not clear whether the BLM has requested that charges be filed against any of the 50 people who rode into the Utah canyon May 10.
BLM’s Utah office recently handed the results of its investigation to the U.S. attorney’s office in Salt Lake City, according to BLM spokeswoman Megan Crandall. But her Justice Department counterpart, Melodie Rydalch, declined to comment. During the Recapture protest, BLM officers did nothing to impede riders from entering the closed part of the canyon, and did not even show themselves. They did make a record of those who drove in.